Hi everybody — we did it! Thanks so much for joining in on this wacky adventure with me. It’s been such an anchor for me over the past six weeks, and I’ve learned so much from reading all of your insightful posts.
Before the reading group comes to an end, I wanted to create a space for any final thoughts: overarching themes, big questions, stuff…[Read more]
Artesiaaaaaaa!!! I’ve mostly stepped away from acting, but that’s one role I’d kill to play someday.
Pete, your point about the consolidation of the male power even in the absence of the daughters in the romance plot made me remember the end of The Changeling (also written by Rowley), in which Alsemero ostentatiously declares to his…[Read more]
“The child has found his father. Do you not know me?”
It’s Act Five! We’re coming to the end of this wild and wacky adventure.
I have SO MANY thoughts about this act, but I noticed for the first time, as I re-read it for today, that literally all the women are gone by the end in one way or another. Picking up on Anna’s comment from the Act 4…[Read more]
Yes, I think that’s getting at it, Dave! Identity is a very complex thing in this play (I think this speaks to some of what Ellie’s talking about in this thread and the Act 4 thread with the ambiguous beard / masculine patrilineal anxieties as well). And I think it’s significant that our “big baddie” (the Devil) is racialized whereas the Saxons…[Read more]
So true, Pete! That scene always makes me think about the role of improvisation for clowns, too: my sense is that we can’t assume the Clown is only interrupting Merlin with his hums as scripted? And what else might he be up to in his bid to get attention?
There’s so much great stuff happening in this thread that makes me wish these discussion boards had Facebook-stlye ‘reaction’ options 😂 I’m so glad Ellie got deep into the beard discussion and Andrew into the music!
I wanted to pick up on the Devil’s ‘frying-pan’ face and Dave’s comment about the apparently instant costume change — I’m…[Read more]
Wow! Act Four already!!
The fun continues with our second magic battle (prophecy battle?) and one of my favourite speeches and stage directions in all of early modern drama:
MERLIN: Hast thou such leisure to enquire my fate,
And let thine own hang careless over thee?
Knowst thou what pendelous mischief roofs thy head,
How fatal, and how…[Read more]
One last quick thought before I get to other work for the day: some really exciting stuff for Ellie’s work on forests and danger in this act. The Devil appears in the forest, Merlin’s “monstrous” birth happens in the forst — and yet, the Devil shows much more care to Joan than we’ve seen from any of the courtly men she’s encountered so far. All…[Read more]
Coming back to this thread having read Act 3 again, I’m thinking back to one of Dave’s early questions about collaboration (and his nod to the possibility that the artificial crab is either a nod to Webster or (if I’m understanding correctly?) possibly a hint that Webster was a collaborator on this play). The structure of the three plots, up to…[Read more]
Thanks for joining us on this weird and wonderful journey 😃
DISCUSSION BOARDS QUICK LINK
This is an asynchronous, extremely casual, just-for-fun space to read, discuss, and enjoy one of the wackiest plays ever written in English. It’s got dragons! It’s got magic battles! It’s got mixed-up English mythology! It’s got a self-insert Clown! The…[Read more]
Enter the Devil in mans habit, richly attir’d, his feet and his head horrid
Welcome, friends, to Act Three!
The meeting of the Clown and Merlin is one of my favourite scenes in the whole play — It’s so funny! ‘Why, of what profession is your father, sir?’ ‘ He keeps a hot-house in the Low Countries’ 😆
Also super interested (a couple scenes b…[Read more]
One of the things I find so interesting about 2.1 is the knife-edge space between comedy and violence — that’s present in so much clowning, of course, but I think that Joan’s predicament perhaps brings it into relief for me in a slightly different way. Really interesting to think about in relation to Dave’s reminder that the Clown and Joan are a…[Read more]
After a relatively sedate and political start, we’re off in Act Two with our introduction to the Clown and Joan (holy misogyny, Batman!! I’d forgotten how dark that scene gets…); Aurelius & Artesia’s wedding procession; the introduction of Proximus, the Saxon magician; our first MAGIC BATTLE between Proximus and the Hermit; the return of Prince…[Read more]
Eoin, that point you make about the similarities with Middleton’s asides is one that (from memory???) Dave explores in his book on Middleton & Rowley’s collaborations — he makes a very convincing argument that their collaborative work influences the way that they write as solo playwrights, too, with each picking up some stylistic bits and pieces…[Read more]
Pete, thank you for bringin up the messy quarto — it’s actually one of my favourite things about this play, and somehow I feel like the hot mess of its 1662 printing matches the wackiness of the play’s contents. I also like the confusion it creates around asides, and that Aurelius speech you’ve quoted is a great example. What’s everyone hearing?…[Read more]
Thanks for that important context, Dave — I was trying to figure out the best space to highlight the suspicious attribution on the title-page!
Really glad so many of you are as intrigued by Artesia and her epic entrance as I am. It feels like we get a lot more women and kinds of women in these first two scenes than in most plays I can think of?…[Read more]
Act One! Just two quick scenes to introduce two of the three plots: the lovers plot with Cador, Constantia, Edwin, and Modestia, and the high/political plot with King Aurelius and Artesia. Of course, because it’s Rowley, we get some wonderful slippage between the two 🙂 We have yet to venture into the comic/low plot, starring Rowley’s self-insert…[Read more]
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